The toppled statue of a slave trader on display at Bristol Museum
A toppled statue of a slave trader in Bristol has been put on display in a museum, sparking controversy in the art community.
The statue in question belonged to Edward Colston, a 17th-century merchant involved in the transatlantic slave trade. Colston’s statue was placed in 1895 in Bristol, UK. However, last year the statue was knocked down and thrown in the nearby harbor during Black Lives Matter protests by local residents.
Currently, the museum is exhibited in the Shed Museum M, which collects artifacts related to Bristol’s history. The statue is displayed lying down, with a plaque that contains the timeline of events before and after it was toppled. There is also a plaque that says “At this location, during global anti-racism protests, a statue celebrating 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was thrown into the harbor by Bristol residents.Another plaque reads verses by poet Vanessa Kisuule.
However, another contributor to the controversy is a group called Save our statutes, who attempts to restore the statue to its original location. Reportedly, the group bought tickets to the M Shed Museum in bulk to avoid people seeing the statue on display. The group released a statement on Twitter on Monday, saying it advocates for “due process” and opposes “mob rule”.
The initial toppling of the statue was met with a largely positive response from the arts community, with many calling the law’s existence “problematic”. Shortly after the overthrow, another statue was put in its place. It featured a young protester and was directed by artist Marc Quinn. However, it was removed within 24 hours as the statue was placed in a public place without permission from the city.